Making the case: Who gets the shot at Conor McGregor?
We take a look at the fighters vying for the big money fight against Conor McGregor.
There are two sides to the Jose Aldo case. One camp would say he was dismantled so quickly and categorically that a rematch isn’t something that should even be mentioned. The other, that he was Featherweight champion for 6 years, undefeated for 10 and he just got caught with a left hand of doom from McGregor. McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has said that this is the fight he would like to see next, as has McGregor himself. I doubt even he thought it would be over as quickly as it was back in December, and I’m sure we’d all love to see another Aldo 5 round war.
Brendan Schaub & Joe Rogan discussed on a recent podcast that it’s a fight that would be hard to market after what happened at UFC194, but I think any fight with McGregor still sells, and the short nature of last time round coupled with the ‘luck’ factor of the one punch KO could easily be played up to. Rogan and Schaub compared Aldo’s loss to that of Manny Pacquaio against Marquez, saying he should win a fight or two, get his confidence back and then step back into the Octagon with McGregor. This is what Pacquiao did prior to his fight with Floyd Mayweather, beating 3 top level boxers proving he still had it and spiking the fans’ interest in the process. A good match up for Aldo would be the young Max Holloway, who is currently on a 8 fight win streak. If Aldo was to win that and look like the murderer of years past then a rematch would be undoubtedly be more marketable.
Another big factor is that the air of invincibility surrounding McGregor. Seeing the self proclaimed P4P #1 tap to a rear naked choke will eradicate that very quickly. Aldo without a doubt lost the mind games in 2015, facing an absolute barrage of both clever and witty abuse and insults. All the smack talk is well and good when you’re on top, but now Aldo knows McGregor is human he’ll be a different animal if we see them square off again.
One thing that has been a little distasteful/ridiculous from Aldo were the comments after McGregor’s loss to Diaz, branding him a ‘pussy’. If getting into a cage to fight Nate Diaz two weight classes above your own makes you a pussy, then I dread to think what that makes the rest of us.
You almost have to wonder what Frankie Edgar has to do to get his shot at the big money fight. He has done everything the UFC has asked him, fought the very best & won his last 5 in spectacular fashion. Frankie is the most dangerous matchup for Conor in my opinion. He has a ridiculous engine, fantastic grappling, KO power (as shown against Chad Mendes) and a real point to prove. Conor’s wrestling was shown up by Mendes, and it will be a big factor if Edgar fights him, especially as there is no questioning Edgar’s stamina and 5 round fitness levels.
He was touted as the #1 replacement after RDA pulled out, only to be somewhat thrown under the bus by Dana White. He had a torn groin so was unable to fight on March 5th. After Dana White’s comments Frankie said:
“I didn’t just pull my groin, I tore it. I sent Dana and everyone in the UFC my MRI. I’m even more pissed that Dana’s insinuating that I ‘refused’ to take this fight, which is bullshit, just because they asked me doesn’t mean they were going to give it to me because guess what, in July they asked me to take the [UFC 189] fight on 15 day’s notice, which of course I accepted, and I still didn’t get it. I feel like my integrity is something that I’ve built over the years and I’ve been such a good guy to the UFC, and then they’re going to throw me under the bus like I ‘refused’ to take this fight.”
The biggest problem Edgar might have is the fact that he has already lost to Jose Aldo in what was a relatively one sided affair. McGregor/Edgar is a fight that should happen at some point, and if Aldo gets the nod and loses again to McGregor it would be a travesty to not see him and the Irishman face off. Either way he deserves a shot at the 145 belt at some point.
At only 24 years of age, Max Holloway is arguably the best young talent in the UFC. He is on an 8 fight win streak since his last defeat to Conor McGregor & is the only victim of Conor’s to go to a decision. 3 years on he has came on leaps and bounds, resoundingly defeating top 15 opponents including Oliveira, Stephens & Cub Swanson.
Whether or not Holloway has a legitimate claim to the McGregor fight, I would be amazed to see the UFC give him the nod at UFC 200. He simply isn’t a big enough name yet, and is yet to be tested against one of the very best in the division. One would think he will get whoever doesn’t fight McGregor and if victorious he will then have a better claim for it.
The July card has to be stacked from top to bottom in what will be the organisation’s biggest ever PPV. Sorry Max but the likelihood of seeing ‘McGregor vs Holloway’ top that event is about as likely as seeing Dada 5000 win the UFC Heavyweight title.
Rumours have been circulating that a rematch with Nate Diaz could be on the cards, presumably at 155lbs (Lightweight). This would be a somewhat surprising move as it would mean McGregor not defending his belt for the 2nd fight running.
It would undoubtedly draw huge numbers though and would be a very different & intriguing fight second time around. Every man and his dog watched him tap to Nate so many of the casual fans would tune in to watch again. Dropping it down a weight class would favour McGregor, but whether or not he has attended any of Nate’s Sunday Morning BJJ classes is another matter…
Rafael Dos Anjos
Probably the least likely to fight McGregor, but an option nonetheless. It would be a strange and arguably unfair decision for the UFC to give McGregor a shot at the Lightweight title after what happened on March 5th. RDA pulled out with 2 weeks to go after braking his foot prior to UFC 196, but it seemingly will be healed up and ready for UFC 200 as he is gunning for either Robbie Lawler at 170 or Nate Diaz on July 9th.
But if RDA is to stay at 155 then I doubt we will see McGregor mentioned in the list of potential opponents. Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov should get a shot at the belt ahead of him.
So who should get the fight?
Personally, I would like to see Aldo have the chance to redeem himself. He was a fantastic champion that had some of the best fights we’ve ever seen in the Octagon. Although Edgar may be the better match up stylistically, Aldo deserves another shot at reclaiming what was his for so long.